Shane Bruno could use a shave. But give the guy a break.
He’s hunkering down with his girlfriend and partner, Patricia Gilmartin, as they hustle to open their first business together, Old World Shaving Parlor, at 4B West Front Street, Red Bank.
On Wednesday, redbankgreen found Bruno in the half-completed shop, where he built and has started staining three individual chair stalls. When completed, the place will have an early 20th-century air to it, with a hexagonal-tile floor, sepia-toned photos on the walls and bare-bulb Edison lights overhead.
The services, too, will evoke an atmosphere undone by unisex hair salons filled with lucite decor and throbbing music: that of the genteel barber shop, a place for men seeking not manicures and facials but the basics of grooming.
And if all this sounds awfully familiar, it’s the result of an eerie coincidence: the same address was home to Marascio’s Barber Shop through almost the entirety of the 20th century.
Marascio’s, like the ramshackle row of buildings in which it stood
opposite the mouth of Broad Street, was stalwart in its resistance to
the fickleness of modernity. In fact, the floor is a relic of the
“It feels good to revive what he did,” Bruno says of the original Marascio, Domenick.
In recent years, the shop was home to Mimi and Cooper James’s dress shop, 4B, which after taking its name from the address expanded, and then consolidated, at 12 West Front, where it remains.
Old World Shaving is aimed at creating an oasis for men, says Bruno, a place where they can “get away from it all” for a few minutes while getting a hot-towel, straight-razor shave ($25 or $30), a simple haircut ($30) and a shoeshine (price TBD). A shoulder massage is part of the premium package.
For cigar smoking customers, Bruno says he will install a humidor, so their favorite smokes will be ready for them. Of course, they’ll have to take them out back to a small patio to enjoy them.
It’s a formula for a “recession-proof” business, says Bruno, whose mother owned a hair salon and who had a raft of uncles in the barbering business. Bruno himself has worked as a hair stylist, and Gilmartin has experience managing haircare shops.
And shoe shining? Bruno, a 33-year-old Ocean County native and Sea Girt resident, says he spent six years as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Infantry out of Fort Bragg.
“I know how to shine a shoe,” he says. “I know how to clean a floor.”
Whether male visitors to Red Bank need a $30 aromatic shaves remains to be demonstrated. Just a couple of doors east of Old World Shaving is Domenick’s Billy’s Barber Shop, an old world place without the capital letters, where a quick haircut and shave have been on offer for decades.
Cardner’s Barber on Mechanic Street, Rocky’s Barber Shop on Wallace and Art’s on Monmouth all offer some variation on the theme, also.
Old World’s approach, though, will be to emphasize indulgent service, says Bruno. “You come in here, it’s like you’re on a red carpet,” he says.
He and Gilmartin hope to open their shop in early April.